Leadership Saratoga graduates Class of '11

Leadership Saratoga's class of 2011 donated more than 550 volunteer hours to local organizations and celebrated that accomplishment during a graduation ceremony on Thursday, April 7.

The Leadership Saratoga class that [graduated] Thursday night had three community projects. Eight people worked on each project, said Linda Toohey, vice president of Leadership Saratoga.

The program, sponsored by the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, is a seven month program to develop a group of local leaders, who upon completion of the program, will be able to assume leadership positions within Saratoga County. During the program, 24 leaders-to-be, who must submit an application and be chosen to participate, receive training in various leadership skills like effective governance, ethical decision making, fundraising and working with media, and an in-depth orientation to countywide issues like education, economic development and human services.

"We work hard to make sure that the curriculum is current and relevant to the needs of the County, and gives participants opportunities to interact with leaders and newsmakers from the area," said Toohey. "Just as important is the opportunity the Chamber provides to annually assemble a class of amazingly talented and diverse people who will support each other and work together for the good of our community for the rest of their lives."

Carole Schiraldi is a branch manager at Saratoga National Bank who, in an effort to get to know her community a bit better, decided to give the program a try.

"I don't come from this area so I don't know anything about any of the organizations around here. The company I work for likes people to get involved," said Schiraldi. "I had to apply for this program and go through this interview process and during that time I decided to learn more about the community and the not-for-profit organizations."

While Leadership Saratoga has participants of all ages, Schiraldi said she was toward the older end of the spectrum, with many of the young leaders in their 20s or 30s. While that initially worried her a little, Schiraldi said the program ended up working out just fine.

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